Buyer Beware: 15 Common Home Defects

Buying a home is a big commitment, so it's crucial to know what you're getting into before you buy. Here are 15 common home defects that every buyer should watch out for.

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    House Hunting Help

    Whether you're looking to buy a first home or a vacation home, it's a big investment. Buyers must look beyond beauty and examine the integrity of the elements that make up the home. In the following slides, Greg Haskett from HomeTeam Inspection Services discusses widespread home defects that every buyer should be aware of.

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    Rotted Wood

    Wood that's exposed to moisture rots over time. Inspect wood in the kitchen and the bathroom, including a tub surround, toilet seat, countertop, and flooring. These spots are especially vulnerable to moisture and should be protected with a special paint or finish. Don't forget to check the exterior of the home, including the deck, eaves, and trim, for signs of rotting.

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    Inadequate Ventilation

    If a home doesn't have proper ventilation, moisture cannot evaporate and will inevitably cause problems. Make sure the attic is properly ventilated to ensure that the roof has a long and functional life. Proper attic ventilation allows the intense heat of the sun to escape from the attic space and promote evaporation of moisture that would otherwise damage interior walls and structural elements.

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    Improper Maintenance of Appliances

    Extend the life of appliances and other equipment by taking the simple, smart action of performing regular maintenance. This includes cleaning out the lint trap in the clothes dryer and cleaning filters in the HVAC unit and range hoods.

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    Amateur Repairs

    The longer a person has lived in their home, the more likely you'll find household repairs done by the homeowner or another amateur. Often these repairs -- most commonly seen in the areas of plumbing and electrical -- don't follow building codes and are likely to fail or cause more damage down the road.

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    Poor Drainage

    Inadequate drainage around the exterior of a home leads to water intrusion in basements, garages, and crawl spaces. This can compromise the foundation of a home and create mold problems.

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    Failing Heating & Cooling Systems

    A failing or aging heating and cooling system in an older home will likely require costly maintenance. These systems could also emit carbon monoxide fumes harmful to your family. These old systems are less efficient than modern choices so have higher heating and cooling costs.

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    Environmental Hazards

    Because there was limited technology and fewer building restrictions in the past, an older home may contain lead-based paint, high levels of carbon monoxide, radon, toxic molds, or even asbestos. Any of these require professional testing and monitoring to ensure the safety of your family.

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    Plumbing Problems

    The pipes under a sink can be made of incompatible materials that lead to dripping faucets, leaking fixtures, and slow drains. Address all plumbing problems before you buy a home to save yourself from a costly repair in the future.

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    Electrical Safety Issues

    Dated or insufficient electrical systems can cause breaker tripping or, worse, a fire. Examples of electrical safety hazards to watch out for are ungrounded outlets, lack of ground fault circuit interrupters, aluminum wiring, and faulty wiring in electrical panels or elsewhere in the house. These potentially hazardous defects must be taken seriously.

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    Controlling Water

    Water intrusion can be one of the most destructive and expensive problems. Check for well-maintained gutters, downspouts, and proper grading around the foundation to direct water away from the home.

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    Loose or Missing Hand Rails

    Over time, railings inside and outside of the home can become loose or go missing. Unstable or insecure railings aren't safe. Examine a home's porch, deck and stair railings, and landings to make sure they're up to code.

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    Roof Problems

    Roofing can contain old or damaged shingles or improper flashing. Should you buy a home with roof concerns, do not ignore it. Repair the roofing in order to prevent costly damage.

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    Storm Damage

    No part of this country is impervious to storm damage. And damage from a past hurricane, tornado, or flood can plague a home for years. Inspect the roofing, siding, exterior railings for wind and water damage and defective repairs. Also, inspect the drywall for water intrusion that could create potential mold problems.

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    Foreclosed Properties

    You might get an amazing deal on a foreclosed property, but be sure to check on the condition of the property before you sign for it. In cases, the former homeowner has taken their frustrations out on the property. If you buy a foreclosed property, watch for stripped or damaged cabinets, surfaces, fixtures, and appliances.

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    Home Inspection Info

    A home inspection -- by a trained and certified inspector -- is your best bet for discovering these defects and making a smart buying decision. Visit HomeTeam Inspection Services to find a reliable inspector in your area. For more information on home inspections, visit the American Society of Home Inspectors.

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